Partners in Progress: Iowa’s electric cooperatives celebrate achievements and learn about future trends during IAEC's 2021 annual meeting
With the theme of “Partners in Progress,” the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC) conducted its 2021 Annual Meeting at the Sheraton West Des Moines Conference Center on December 2 and 3 with more than 350 registered attendees. Board directors and employees from Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives received informative updates from IAEC Board President Steve Seidl (pictured) and IAEC Executive Vice President and General Manager Chuck Soderberg.
“Our theme of Partners in Progress is very fitting for 2021,” remarked Seidl, who retired from the IAEC Board in December after 15 years of service. “Iowa’s electric cooperatives know we can accomplish so much more when we work together to achieve a common goal.”
Soderberg added, “The statewide association has worked hard this year to serve, support and advocate for our member cooperatives. Much of our success is the result of collaboration and working together with key partners.”
During the business meeting portion of the annual meeting, three new directors were elected to the IAEC Board: Tony Lem of Consumers Energy was elected to represent District 2, Jim Miller of Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association was elected to represent District 5 and Deena Moore of Southwest Iowa REC was elected to finish out the remaining year of Darrell Jensen’s term in District 4. Directors on the IAEC Board serve staggered three-year terms. The IAEC Board would like to thank retiring directors Steve Seidl of Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, Don Shonka of East-Central Iowa REC and Darrell Jensen of Farmers Electric Cooperative, Inc. for their leadership and service to Iowa’s electric cooperatives. They were presented with commemorative plaques during the business meeting in recognition of their service.
Following the Annual Meeting, the new slate of directors reorganized and announced the following officers:
- IAEC Board President: Roger Solomonson, District 3 director from Heartland Power Cooperative
- IAEC Board Vice President: Gordon Greimann, District 6 director from Franklin REC
- IAEC Board Secretary/Treasurer: Kenneth VandenBerg, District 1 director from Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative
- IAEC Board Assistant Secretary/Treasurer: Neal Heldt, District 7 director from Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative
The IAEC Annual Meeting is also an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the electric industry and future trends that may impact rural Iowa’s economy and quality of life. IAEC presented several educational sessions, including:
IAEC Regulatory Specialist Ethan Hohenadel moderated a panel discussion on battery storage technologies. Eric Jung, president and CEO of Northeastern REMC in Indiana spoke about his co-op’s storage project along with Brian Krambeer, president and CEO of MiEnergy Cooperative, and Matt Washburn, EVP and general manager of Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative. They shared insights into the decision-making process and lessons learned along the way.
Cybersecurity speaker John Sileo shared his personal story as a victim of identity theft and cybercrime while reinforcing the notion that cybersecurity grows from the powerful intersection between humans and technology. He shared some practical ways to defend against cyberattacks.
Futurist and author Jack Uldrich talked about taking advantage of extraordinary opportunities to position ourselves in a world where “business as unusual” is the new usual. He shared several examples throughout history that show how great crises produce great change and encouraged attendees to prepare for a transforming future.
The statewide association also honored several electric co-op employees and directors who celebrated 25 years of service in 2021. Co-op board directors who earned education certifications during the year were also recognized at the 2021 IAEC Annual Meeting for their commitment to education and training. Several Iowa electric cooperatives were congratulated for completing the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program (RESAP) in 2021. RESAP is a national safety program that electric co-ops utilize as a framework to improve safety performance and culture.
As part of the Annual Meeting program, IAEC coordinated an auction of personally donated items which raised almost $17,000 for the Iowa Friends of Rural Electrification (Iowa FORE) political action committee. The funds will stay in Iowa to aid state legislators and candidates who support electric cooperatives.
The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives is a trade association which represents the interests of locally owned electric cooperatives in the state, including 39 distribution co-ops and nine generation and transmission co-ops. Formed more than 75 years ago, IAEC provides many vital functions for its members including legislative representation, regulatory oversight, training and education services, safety programs, and communications support. Learn more at www.iowarec.org.
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